A Unique Dining Experience - MoonShadow Cafe

Last Updated on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:44pm | Arts & Culture

A Unique Dining Experience is a regular feature of The Republican newspaper and is being reprinted here in its entirety with permission. This article originally appeared in the April 16, 2015 issue.

There's no question that the arts community in Garrett County is vibrant and multi-faceted, and if you want to immerse yourself in the visual and musical talents of local folks while savoring some of the most nutritious and delicious food on the mountaintop, it's time to make a beeline for the MoonShadow Café in Accident.

Located at 110 South Main Street, the cozy and comfortable bistro, which includes a fully stocked bar, as well as a stage in one corner for musical guests, is decorated with the artwork of local painters, sculptors, and other multi-media artists. Some of the pieces are for sale, in keeping with the mission of MoonShadow to support and promote local artists.

The business was founded in October 2013 by Lisa Jan, also the founder and owner of Blue Moon Rising, an eco-friendly resort at Deep Creek Lake where guests stay in tiny but fully equipped houses, designed and built by the local construction company Hobbitat. The café is the exclusive food provider for Blue Moon Rising, its sister business.

Lisa wanted to provide a source of healthier, alternative food for the residents and visitors of Garrett County, and MoonShadow is the result of that vision. Manager Mark Greene said the staff works hard to obtain their resources locally as often as possible. They purchase from places such as Working H Meats & MarketGarrett GrowersRound Right FarmSavage River FarmFireFly Farms, and High Country Creamery & Market - all local businesses. The goal is to find as much local produce as possible and to seek out organically grown items as well.

"It's really hard during the winter, of course," Mark said. "But we're coming up on the growing season now, and we'll soon have lots of local produce available."

Providing nutritionally inspired, local foods is proving to be successful at MoonShadow. Patrons return again and again for the restaurant's famous Reuben sandwich, for which chefs brine the brisket in house for ten days, and make their own sauerkraut. Mark said it is the number one best selling item.

Two other popular specialties are the spinach and gouda dip, a huge seller, and the cauliflower wings, which are pieces of cauliflower spritzed in oil, baked, and tossed in buffalo sauce. The vegetable curry sauce is another favorite, served with rice, garden peas, snow peas, carrots, chick peas, onions, cauliflower, and toasted almonds.

The management of MoonShadow also strives to provide some of the most unique craft brews in the area, with eight taps of unique beers, ales, and stouts. Mark shops regularly for seasonal releases and unique micro brews only offered for finite periods of time. This keeps the offerings varied and interesting and the bar always stocked with something new.

The arts promotion aspect of MoonShadow comes to fruition every week, as a wide variety of music provided by both local and visiting musicians is a regular event. Dinner guests are often serenaded by the various artists, who are usually present on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Last night [Wednesday, April 15th] musician Keith Roberts played. During that event, donations were collected to benefit Accident Elementary School's music and library programs, Mark said.

MoonShadow conducts such a benefit night once a month to help local organizations. Some of the recipients over the years have been HART for Animals, the Garrett Mentors, Garrett County Humane Society, Friends of Deep Creek Lake, and more.

Other special events give patrons the opportunity to be artists themselves. On the second Tuesday of each month, the café hosts "Drink and Draw," during which guests come with their own sketch pads and pencils. Local artists Jillian Mazur and Josh Gambetta arrange items for that evening's scene, and the patrons are welcome to sketch away. This is a no-cost event - no cover charge and no obligation to purchase food.
"It's just an opportunity for people to relax and draw together," Mark said.

Another popular event is Thirst for Art, managed by another local artist, Jennifer Vitez Wampler. This does have a price of about $35 and requires reservations. All needed materials are provided for participants to use - acrylics to paint a pre-sketched scene. Jennifer demonstrates the best techniques and steps to take, and then helps everyone complete their paintings. The next such event is set for May 9, and folks should make their reservations soon because it will sell out fast. To do so, just call the café at (301) 750-5094 or visit Thirst for Art on Facebook.

This Saturday night's offering, on April 18, will be the group Grand Ole Ditch, who will present MoonShadow's 125th concern since its inception. The café will host a special event on April 22 as well, called the Earth Day Beer Pairing Dinner, slated that day at 6:00 p.m. In collaboration with the Peak Organic Brewing Company of Maine, MoonShadow will offer five different beers with four meal courses. This dinner is limited to 40 people. Call the café to reserve your spot.

In addition to Mark, the key staff members are head chef Matt Martin, front-of-house and catering manager Lasidi Helmick, baker Charlie Hengernible, and entertainment coordinator and sound engineer Brian Oxford. The company employs about 20 people.

Business hours are Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. The company offers a wide range of catering services as well.

For menus, a complete events calendar, and more, visit MoonShadow's website or call the number noted above. Or better yet, get yourself to MoonShadow Café today!